“Every great literature has always been allegorical – allegorical of some view of the whole universe. The ‘Iliad’ is only great because all life is a battle, the ‘Odyssey’ is only great because all life is a journey, the Book of Job because all life is a riddle.” – G.K. Chesterton
All life is a battle.
Life is a series of conflicts. There isn’t a book, fiction or non-fiction, read, nor movie seen, that did not have a struggle between good and evil, right or wrong. Stephen King’s novels are loaded with good and evil. Our daily lives entail circumstances which require decisions. We are coerced or influenced by forces within or without by those with an agenda that may ask us to compromise our conscience. A decision made, could be the difference between life and death, or a confidence from mistrust lost forever. Innocence can be destroyed for the sake of ego. The selfless and the selfish natures of man are constantly at odds. It is like the image of the little angel on one shoulder and the little devil on the other shoulder of an individual. Each is trying to command the soul of the individual. An old Native American Indian sage once revealed to George Bernard Shaw in an interview the following: “In every man’s soul there are two dogs fighting, One is good, the other evil. The one that wins, is the one you feed the most.” Love thrives with good but dies with evil. For love is selfless and evil is selfish. Love asks: “What can I do for you?” Evil asks: “What can you do for me?” The virtue which impels the good act over the evil is prudence. Because prudence weighs the consequence of an act before it is carried out. Without prudence the outcome of the battle between good and evil is left to chance. God lends Himself not to chance. G.K. Chesterton tells us: “In the end, we are left with good and evil, light and darkness. We must choose a side.” (FAITH)
All life is a journey.
Maxwell Maltz: author of “Cyper-Cibernetics” tells us that humans are goal seeking creatures on a relentless pursuit of those goals. A person without goals, or denied the opportunity to pursue them, is unfulfilled. More tragic than death, is a life not lived in striving toward some achievement. In example: The pandemic that has isolated children keeping them from in-person learning and socializing with their peers has not only been a tragic event in the cause of illness and death but also in the stifling of children’s development. For it denies them the social growth through interpersonal relations. Studies have shown that the depression which arises under such circumstances results in increased adolescent suicide or thoughts thereof. They feel helpless in that they miss their friends and that there is no foreseeable end to their malaise. It is as though their personal journey will not extend beyond the horizon. Their love can’t be expressed in real time to another living breathing human being of their age and understanding. This continual loneliness is unsustainable and unacceptable. The result of study is knowledge. Followed by a need to apply it. Therein are goals formed. But they cannot be achieved alone. Unfettered pursuit of goals other than the manageable bumps in the road along the way, which makes one stronger and determined, promises contentment of body, mind, emotion and spirit. All journey in this world is to some end. But, is that end finite?
Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen expresses unrest in this way; “We are all born with a heart. Not a heart like a Valentine heart, but one with a piece torn out of it from the event of Calvary. We go through our whole lives here on earth trying to fill our hearts with all the love that we can. Yet, are never quite fulfilled. Never satisfied until it returns to God, Who has been keeping its missing part for us. It is then that our incomplete heart is made complete, as the piece held by God is replaced by Him.” The journey of our heart is the most important journey to each of us. It begins in our mother’s womb. We journey from there into the world where we, by education, experience, and prudent guidance, make our way through life pursuing the varied goals afforded us. Some successes, some failures. Yet, birth into this world, instinctively, because of our hierarchy in life, tells us that the journey ends not here, but, rather, is again but a passage from another womb; that of the world. As we left life in our mother’s womb to life beyond it, we now, having lived life well by a will matched with that of God, are delivered, with justified expectation, from our worldly womb to a life that can best be depicted in Charles Dickens’, “A Tale Of Two Cities”: “It is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” (FAITH)
All life is a riddle
Why is life a riddle? Because a riddle is a question or statement intentionally phrased so as to require ingenuity in ascertaining its answer or meaning, typically presented as a game. The game that God engages with Job and us as well.
“The book of Job is chiefly remarkable, as I have insisted throughout, for the fact that it does not end in a way that is conventionally satisfactory. Job is not told that his misfortunes were due to his sins or a part of any plan for his improvement. But in the prologue we see Job tormented not because he was the worst of men, but because he was the best. It is the lesson of the whole work that man is most comforted by paradoxes. Here is the very darkest and strangest of the paradoxes; and it is by all human testimony the most reassuring. I need not suggest what high and strange history awaited this paradox of the best man in the worst fortune. I need not say that in the freest and most philosophical sense there is one Old Testament figure who is truly a type; or say what is prefigured in the wounds of Job.” – G.K. Chesterton
Job’s unexpected life altering events beckons the oft lamented question: Why do bad things happen to good people? I, myself was stricken with Polio at age four. As Job, who was righteous and dedicated to God, I, too, at that age, was Innocence at its best. So, why me, as he? Polio is a disease with neither bias nor charity. It just does what it does. It would not exist in a perfect world. Neither would Satan exist, in a perfect world, to ask God to challenge the depth of Job’s loyalty to Him. But since – through the exercise of free will – “The Fall” from grace, the world stopped being perfect. Though my life changed the day inflicted and put me on an unintended path, it turned out to be a good, right and best path that both prepared me for the trials of life and to successfully achieve worthy goals. As I sit here with a physical body of diminishing strength from the remnants of polio I can only think but one thought so often uttered by an ungrateful and regretful aging person: “If God in His infinite mercy, love and understanding had offered me a choice of a different life, I would gladly take it.” My response to that is…no. I’d have it no other way than the way that God has placed before me. It was the perfect stage on which to achieve what so many long for in life; love in its intended fullest. For love is no better forged or expressed than through struggle and sacrifice. (FAITH)
Those who put their trust in God, though they be the best or the worst of beings, will not wither under the weight of trial. Should they cling to Him, who has taken upon Himself the burden of the world of which no man could ever conceive, then despair will not overtake them. Instead, their hope will spring eternal and guide them to an eternity promised to those whose trust is well placed.
At the end of each segment I emphasized the word FAITH. If we note each letter of the word FAITH we find that each letter can represent a simple but most powerful, encouraging and comforting phrase for anyone whose life is now in the throes of battle, a difficult journey or a confounding riddle. That phrase is: F-ound A-lways I-n T-hy H-and.
Fight the good fight, finish the race, keep the faith. – 2 Timothy 4:7